Did St. Thomas Aquinas Teach that Reason Did Not Fall?


From the comments box:
Francis Schaeffer, among others, have said that Aquinas taught that the will fell, but that reason did not. This is a not infrequent theme on Protestant blogs, but I notice that few Catholic blogs, even Thomistic ones address it. How about you?

I have to admit that my confidence in Presuppositional Apologetics began to fail at Westminster Theological Seminary. As a undergrad major in philosophy, I had read enough Thomas Aquinas to know that Francis Schaeffer had not only an overly simplistic reading of history, but an especially simplistic understanding of philosophy(particularly Thomism). I was eager to be at Westminster Theological Seminary because I would be getting raw Cornelius Van Til.

But then I started reading Van Til and the Bahnsen supplement and I was shocked by what I read. Van Til isn’t an ignoramus. He also isn’t a philosopher. Knowing Dooyeweerd, Stoker, and Kant isn’t enough. Anyway, I say all this to warn all the wound-up presuppositional apologist out there who think that Van Til is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Francis Schaeffer’s critique of Thomas Aquinas is classic presuppositionalist fodder. I recommend reading Thomas for yourself on the matter. A great place to start is the Summa theologiae I-II, q. 85 a. 3 where Thomas discusses the “four wounds” of the fall as enumerated by the Venerable Bede. St. Thomas writes:

Therefore in so far as the reason is deprived of its order to the true, there is the wound of ignorance; in so far as the will is deprived of its order of good, there is the wound of malice; in so far as the irascible is deprived of its order to the arduous, there is the wound of weakness; and in so far as the concupiscible is deprived of its order to the delectable, moderated by reason, there is the wound of concupiscence.

So there you have it from the horse’s mouth. The four wounds: the fall of the intellect, the fall of the will, the fall from strength and mortality, and the disordering of the passions all resulted from the Fall. According to Thomas, reason fell with the will.

Of course, what it means “to fall” is a whole other question. See my posts on “preternatural gifts” for a Catholic point of view.

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